There’s a little place that’s quietly going to open their doors in the North Loop neighborhood this weekend. Perhaps you’ve heard of Spoon and Stable? Gavin Kaysen? I feel like I’ve been writing scads about the celebrated chef who has made the shocking (shocking!) decision to leave a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City to travel to our little burgh for about a year.
After selecting the address and plans for the spot, he quickly went about hiring some of the most talented hospitality professionals in the Twin Cities. Bill Summerville will run the front of house. Diane Yang lends her flavor wizardry to the pastries. The last bold name to be selected was Robb Jones as the head of the bar program.
Jones has made his name through various top cocktail spots in town, including Bradstreet Craftshouse, Meritage, and, most recently, Saffron. He was named one of the Top 10 of the Most Imaginative bartenders in the country and has a penchant for serving Tom & Jerry’s when the December winds howl. (That he’s also one of the most genuine, kind souls on the planet is beside the point, but notable because bartenders, so beloved to me, are not often known as a benevolent lot.)
The drinks on the menu inside Spoon and Stable is unnamed – bucking the tradition of paragraph long inside jokes as titles for cocktails All are priced at $13. Even more shocking – there’s a Cosmopolitan served here without even a hint of irony. All the flavors are fresh, inventive takes on familiar drink standards.
None shines more brilliantly than the Old Fashioned, a twist on the first cocktail ever made. Initially the drink was made with harsh whiskey that was then softened by adding sugar and bitters. Jones first had the idea to create a rum Old Fashioned when he sampled a smoky pineapple and rum tiki drink at Tales of the Cocktail, an annual event where the nation’s bartenders descend on New Orleans.
The Spoon and Stable Old Fashioned is crafted from roasted pineapple, that cooks off some of the water and concentrates the flavor with barrel aged Barbados rum. He blends the fruit with demerara sugar for a raw, honey caramel sweetness that evokes the vanilla and oak notes of the rum. The cocktail dances at the edge of sweetness, but the tartness and deep spirit notes hold the sugars at bay, resulting in a beautifully balanced cocktail. While the flavors are entirely familiar, the drink is unlike anything else.
Spoon and Stable opens Sunday.